In an op-ed written for the Orange Country Register right before the holiday season, Joel Kotkin — the R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University — wrote that, “it is hard to deny that we live in an increasingly post-religious civilization.”
While he admits that there are emerging alternative, non-institutional, forms of religion and spirituality and decries the dangers of the potent religion-plus-politics mix, his argument is an old one — that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialized world.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
Religion has always been with us. And it still is.
Throughout history, it has expressed the deepest questions human beings can ask, and it has taken a central place in the lives of virtually all civilizations and cultures. As we think all the way back to the dawn of human consciousness, we find religion everywhere we turn. And it hasn’t gone away.
In the spirit of understanding religion — what it is, why it is, where it is, how it develops, changes, and shapes our world even as it is shaped by it — I am launching a new, public, platform for religious literacy: INSTA TO WORLD RELIGIONS.
If you’re interested in learning more about religion, curious about various religious traditions, or just like pretty pictures, videos, and stories on Instagram this course is for you.
The idea is to teach the equivalent of an introduction to world religions course via images, videos, stories and blogs and do so through Instagram.
I will kick off the course on Tuesday January 23rd!
Each week, from Tuesday to Thursday, I will post photos, videos, stories, and blogs to explain the basic worldviews, rituals, material culture, and beliefs of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese, Indigenous, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions as well as New Religious Movements and “religion beyond religion.”
The course will also include an exploration of the very category of “what religion is” and dive into the social, political, and cultural elements that come into play in the development and understanding of the religions we are studying. It is my hope that our course will provide a way for you to not only learn more about other religions, but also engage with your own perspective and promote a posture of respectful curiosity and imaginative empathy toward learning more about religious traditions other than your own.
I invite you to join me next Tuesday to start the course by talking more about WHY we should study religion in this day and age and how despite the overblown claims of some, religion is powerful and persistent, and shows no signs of disappearing.